How will it look next year and what does Wikipedia mean to you? This is the question the massive online database is asking. This free digital collaborative encyclopedia has grown from 500,000 English-language articles in 2005 to more than 5 million in 2015.
Wikipedia is written in English. It started in 2001 and currently contains 5,056,252 articles. Many other Wikipedias are available; some of the largest are listed below.
More than 1,000,000 articles: Deutsch Español Français Italiano Nederlands Polski Русский Svenska Tiếng Việt
More than 250,000 articles: العربية Bahasa Indonesia Bahasa Melayu Català Čeština فارسی 한국어 Magyar 日本語 Norsk bokmål Português Română Srpski / српски Srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски Suomi Türkçe Українська 中文
More than 50,000 articles: Bosanski Български Dansk Eesti Ελληνικά English (simple) Esperanto Euskara Galego עברית Hrvatski Latviešu Lietuvių Norsk nynorsk Slovenčina Slovenščina ไทย
Here are some of the most popular themes over the years:
Wikipedians are obsessed with tracking deaths. In each year since 2007, the Wikipedia entry “Deaths in [year]” topped the list. Deaths in 2015, for instance, garnered 18,271 edits last year — more than double the next closest entry. (The “Deaths in” entries were so popular that we decided to remove them from the chart above.)
Other morbid entries near the top of yearly rankings: 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, 2009 flu pandemic and 2010 Haiti earthquake.
Predictably, political personalities and controversial events were among the most-changed entries across several years. Elections, wars and scandals abound. For instance, former U.S. president George W. Bush ranked in the top 10 each year from 2002 to 2005.His successor, Barack Obama, has among the most-edited Wikipedia entries ever. A new Pope is sure to get attention, too: Benedict ranked No. 8 in 2005 and Francis was No. 10 in 2013.
Politically charged deaths and terrorist incidents were also common. The No. 7 page in 2014 was the Shooting of Michael Brown, while the Charlie Hebdo shooting ranked highly in 2015.
Wikipedia is clearly a popular forum for people to adjudicate debates about “American Idol” seasons (which appear each year from 2011 to 2013), Harry Potter and WWE wrestlers. What better place to dive deep on Britney Spears’s 2007 album “Blackout”? Also, coming in at No. 9 last year was a page about the latest season of “Asia’s Next Top Model.”
There are a lot of weather geeks on Wikipedia, it appears. In addition to Hurricane Katrina’s No. 2 ranking in 2005, three pages about a year’s Atlantic Ocean hurricane season — for 2005, 2010 and 2012 — also were heavily edited. And it’s not just hurricanes, either: the 2013, 2014 and 2015 Pacific typhoon seasons also ranked near the top.
The esoteric and arcane
One of the most edited entries last year was Geospatial summary of the High Peaks/Summits of the Juneau Icefield. Well, of course!
Other surprising entries that were edited heavily over the years: a compilation of mathematics concepts, in 2002; Sexual slang, in 2004; and List of works by Eugène Guillaume, in both 2013 and 2014. (Guillaume was a French sculptor, by the way. Thanks, Wikipedia!)
Here are a few of our favorite pages: